Mixed fortunes and high scores played with the Finn fleet on day 4 of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) still holds a sizeable lead of 17 points from Thomas Le Breton (FRA), who won race 8, and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) who moves up to third after two third place finishes. The first race of the day was won by Björn Allansson (SWE).
With the points marking the medal race cut extremely tight, Thursday was always going to be a crucial day on the water. For many it was make or break day, to either maintain their medal race place or stay within striking distance going into Friday's final two opening series races. There was still a lot to race for, and with a number of boats already with high scores, it was important to maintain a clean sheet.
The Finns were scheduled for a later start today, so enjoyed the best of the wind conditions, as once again the wind increased during the day for another near perfect day's sailing in Hyères, though again an early postponement delayed the start.
However very few managed that. Overall leader Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) scored 58 in the opening race after breaking his halyard, before recovering to sixth in the second. In spite of that he only lost one point off his lead. The best performance of the day was from Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) with two third places, and the reward for this was taking third overall for the double European Champion.
Milosz Wojewski (POL) was the early leader in race 7, a lead that he held until the final downwind, when Björn Allansson (SWE) came past to win by just seven seconds, with a fast approaching Kljakovic Gaspic just two seconds behind.
Gasper Vincec (SLO) finally found the front in race 8, leading round from Le Breton. Kljakovic Gaspic spent most of the race in third, though Anders Pedersen (NOR) led him through the gate. Le Breton found a way to the front on the final downwind to win his second race of the series, while Kljakovic Gaspic got into third on the final upwind.
Kljakovic Gaspic said, "I had good feeling today. I made a good strategy in both races and in the end had great scores. Also I am happy with my speed but I need to get fitter to be able to push more and few more kilos would help as well."
After a blistering start to the regatta, Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) has had an inconsistent few days, picking up a BFD in race 6 to drop to seventh overall. He managed to maintain seventh today with a 16, 4 to leave him 12 points within the medal race cut. Meanwhile London 2012 bronze medalist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) has dropped down the rankings. After picking up a disqualification in race 7, he had a poor first race today before dropping out of the second and now languishes in 22nd place.
Postma explained his breakage. "Today was something different. I was around tenth or 12th at the top mark and then my halyard broke. I tried to fix it as I went downwind and I finished the race but I only had three boats behind me. Then I needed to fix it and it took us 15 minutes or so and I only had one more minute before the race so it was really close. A lot of people helped and in that last race I was sixth.
"The points are getting close. It will be exciting tomorrow, I like some action and the heat is on."
Race 7 winner Allansson had this to say, "In the first race I had an OK start down by the pin, but had to fight hard for every metre. I managed the shifts well and improved all through the race. At the last top mark I rounded second after POL 1 [Wojewski], and just gave it my all on the last run. I was able, with max heart rate to take the lead and extend to the finish line. It was an awesome feeling."
"In the second race the right hand side was paying, which it had not done in the first race. This meant that all of us that gone to the left had to fight hard to get back in the game, while the sailors that chosen the right hand side could capitalize on the shift to the right."
Le Breton explained his strategy, "Today it was important to be on the good shift, because we had only one big shift per upwind. I managed to be top five at the first mark and was quite fast downwind. I was second at the bottom and I finally caught Gasper [Vincec] on the last downwind."
Vincec actually scored the second best performance of the day with a 6, 2. He has only just returned to the class after losing the 2012 trials to Vasilij Zbogar (SLO). He explained, "I'm slowly coming back. We are not so focussed on the results but we are doing more attention on the small things. I was out for two years and it's very difficult to be in racing mode. Also I have changed all my materials and boat and mast so I still need to find top gear with it."
"Today was pretty windy, 15 knots. I had two good start with good speed I was able to control the group. It was important that I could control my position from the start to the finish."
There are just two more races in the opening series on Friday, before the medal race for the top 10 on Saturday. All boats are now being tracked and this can be watched live online at: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php
Results after eight races
1 NED842 Pieter-Jan Postma 25
2 FRA29 Thomas Le Breton 42
3 CRO524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 43
4 USA6 Caleb Paine 54
5 SWE6 Björn Allansson 58
6 NZL24 Josh Junior 67
7 GRE77 Ioannis Mitakis 68
8 EST2 Deniss Karpak 68
9 CRO69 Milan Vujasinovic 78
10 AUS41 Jake Lilley 80
Photos: Thom Touw www.thomtouw.com
Full results: http://registration.ffvoile.fr/swc2014/old/race/swisstiming/Finn/Finn-Fleet-Overall.pdf
Event website: http://swc.ffvoile.com/swc2014gbr